When you look at oyster seed every day, it's hard to remember that they're living, eating, breathing creatures. The little buggers just lie there while you wash and grade them and aside from floating around in the upwelling system, they don't seem to do much of anything. At least, that's what I thought. And then Skip reached his hand into an upweller last week and something happened. It was the seed he'd been growing out in the back river (which feeds into Duxbury Bay from the northeast, just past the Powder Point Bridge) in floating trays. He was experimenting with one of his batches of seed and it had done really well, growing quickly to a size that looked good to him. We'd moved it to the upwelling system about a week or two ago. He pulled a handful out on Tuesday to take a peek and as they were sitting in his hand, the seeds started moving. They were actually opening and closing but it looked like they were about to jump.
"I've probably grown about a hundred million seeds over the years and I've never seen anything like it," Skip said a little wide-eyed. All of the other growers came down to take a look and said the same thing: "Never seen that before. (And we hope it's not a bad thing.)" We watched it happen again a few more times over the course of the week so Skip called his friend Dick Krause from ARC. Dick thought it might have something to do with the difference in salinity between the back river and the upwelling system. Perhaps they were getting used to the higher salinity levels? They eventually stopped doing it and have been growing nicely all week -- definitely not a bad thing. I, for one, was tickled to see these fragile little things having some fun with us.
Other than that, our week was a good one. We finally had a string of good weather (and luck) so things on the farm ran smoothly. Berg was back with a leg brace so the team felt whole again. We did some cage cleaning to get all the seed that we've put out in the bay nice and neat. Cleaning involves pulling those mesh plastic bags out of the cages, banging them a little with a PVC pipe to keep the oysters from crowding into the corners, giving them a shake and a hand swipe to get some of the gunk off of them, then rotating the bags so they all get equal time on the top or the bottom of the cage. It's a slow process but we managed to get a number of cages done this week. We also deployed some more seed so our nursery is almost completely full both in the bay and in the back river. My favorite day was Friday: the seed crew (Catie, Eva, and me) graded in the morning and then went out to the float and culled for the rest of the afternoon. We went for a swim, hung out in the sun...Eva taught me how to skip oyster shells (I was a complete hack until she pointed out where my forefinger should rest on the shell; I got a few good ones off but definitely need some practice). We ended the week on a very relaxed note.
This was also a huge week for Island Creek in the press. Tasting Table, an epicurean email newsletter (like a foodie's DailyCandy), did a sweet write up on our new webstore (thanks Ryan!) and How2Heroes posted some videos they'd shot a few weeks back. Nice way to introduce folks to the farm so pass it along.
I spent this weekend in Charlotte for my sister's baby shower. She and her husband are in the process of adopting a child so it was a fantastic way to celebrate their new addition... and they'll be super prepared for whenever the baby gets here! The best part about it is that my sis could eat and drink whatever she wanted yesterday so we had a few drinks, and of course, a few oysters. The farm shipped 5 dozen down for the party and we had a blast shucking in the back yard. Lots of love for Island Creek in the South. We just need to get our oysters into more Charlotte restaurants (hint hint, Hendo).